Ice-fishermen see 'crazy' season ahead

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STANDISH — While recent subzero temperatures have sent chills through the Lakes Region, some local ice-fishermen aren’t complaining.

“If it’s wintertime, it might as well be cold,” said Chris Erickson of Gorham while jigging for togue on Sebago Lake this week.

Erickson and Mike Ferron, also of Gorham, said they hauled their ice-fishing shack onto the lake from the Sebago Lake Station boat launch in Standish.

Neither could remember a recent winter when the ice conditions were this good this early.

Ferron speculated that the current conditions could bode well for the rest of the season.

“I can’t imagine what we’ve got in store for us this winter. I think it’s going to be crazy,” he said.

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While Sgt. Jason Luce of the Maine Warden Service said conditions clearly are “better than they were last year” at this time, he repeatedly emphasized caution on the ice.

Luce referenced the classic Central Maine Power commercial that says, “no line is safe to touch, ever.” According to Luce, it’s the same with ice.

Paul Korenkiewicz of Windham said it was his second day of ice-fishing, and that the cold can be “a good thing and a bad thing.”

After discussing the ice depth — maybe around 6 inches, they had heard — with another fisherman who wasn’t braving the cold that particular day, Korenkiewicz cautioned that fishing on certain parts of Big Sebago carries risks.

“It’s a dangerous lake, so you’ve got to watch out,” Korenkiewicz said. “You’ve definitely got to have some guts.”

Korenkiewicz said he planned to start close to the shore and work his way out, depending on the ice conditions. He said he wouldn’t be venturing farther out onto deeper parts of the lake, as some others had.

Erickson shared a similar sentiment from his shack, which sat above nearly 40 feet of water, according to his depth-finder.

“There’s some nuts way out there today,” Erickson said.

Luce warned that while smaller lakes and ponds in the area have “sufficient” ice, Big Sebago is “still questionable, at best.”

“It’s a scary lake in the winter,” Luce said, pointing to unpredictable conditions caused by pressure and wind.

“Check the ice as you go,” Luce stressed, adding that fishermen should be prepared with safety gear such as ice picks and warm clothing.

Luce, who is in his 20th year with the Warden Service, said he has only once seen the big bay on Sebago Lake freeze before Martin Luther King Day weekend. He suggested that Sebago may be the only lake in Maine that doesn’t freeze every year.

“Most people assume that a lake in Maine is frozen,” he said. Wind would have to calm down for Sebago’s big bay to freeze over, he added.

No matter which body of water ice-fishermen choose, Luce hopes they will dress warmly, bring safety equipment and let somebody know where they are going beforehand.

“It’s crazy, as cold as it is,” Luce said.

Chris Erickson and Mike Ferron of Gorham fish from the shack they hauled onto the ice on Sebago Lake in Standish this past week. (Matt Junker/The Forecaster)

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